A 7,280-square-foot retail building focused on eating establishments proposed for the triangle-shaped lot across the street from Ceres High School was approved by the Ceres Planning Commission on Monday evening.
The uniquely shaped and situated 1.13-acre island at the corner of Whitmore and Central avenues was created years ago when Caltrans created the new Whitmore Avenue interchange with Highway 99. The location and size have limited its development potential – until now.
Whitmore Towers is proposed to accommodate up to seven retail spaces with a variety of uses to serve residents and highway travelers. In May city officials told developer Anthony Nowaid of the Calabasas based Metro Investment that they were hesitant about supporting the project unless the proposed building was aesthetically enhanced with a high-quality design and high-quality architectural features. The city staff also encouraged the applicant to design the building to capture additional spacing to allow for the possibility of outdoor seating areas that potential restaurant operators could utilize. When architectural renderings were presented to the city in July, city leaders got excited.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said city of Ceres Community Development Director Tom Westbrook. “It’s always the challenge to get them filled but they have good motivation.”
The building will be divided into three separate food-oriented tenant spaces with two outdoor seating areas – one on the roof – and a foyer that would accommodate the customers of those restaurant users. As proposed, one 4,300-square-foot sit-down restaurant would be created, along with a 1,200-sq.-ft. fast-food restaurant, and a 1,200-sq.-ft. ice cream shop.
Real estate agent Renee Ledbetter is working with Nowaid to find tenants. Nowaid has also purchased the large parcel between the triangle lot and the freeway. Initial interest among potential businesses will determine how the interior spaces are created but she said the size could accommodate seven businesses.
“We’re excited about it. It’s going to bring some new business to Ceres and it’s going to give us some new food options for us to choose from – that’s our goal."Renee Ledbetter
“We’re excited about it,” said Ledbetter. “It’s going to bring some new business to Ceres and it’s going to give us some new food options for us to choose from – that’s our goal. I’ve already had interest from an ice cream parlor; actually a local business that wants to expand. So we’re trying to go after some eateries that we don’t have here. So hopefully we’ll be successful at that.”
She said ideally the project will result in a “nice sit down restaurant that families and the general public would like to sit down and enjoy diner but also healthy fast-food options for the high schoolers that would be a quick and easy for them.”
The project was proposed with a conditional use permit process that leaves the door open for a restaurant to serve alcoholic beverages.
The site will be accessed from two driveway entrances, one from Herndon Way and the other from Central Way that will lead to the parking lot of 52 parking spaces. Both driveways will be configured for right-in and right-out only turning movements, thereby reducing potential traffic conflicts.
The seven parcels that comprise the triangle will have to be merged into a single parcel.
Ledbetter is marketing the project and may be contacted at (209) 201-7870 or ExitwithRenee@gmail.com